Sunday, June 27, 2010
I have written a dozen posts on tort reform on this blog, which always generate spirited and adversarial retorts from attorneys and their supporters. They accuse me and other tort reform advocates of carrying water for insurance companies. They repeatedly point out that I know nothing about the legal system and are unqualified to opine on its flaws. They deride me when I argue that effective tort reform would reduce the practice of defensive medicine, despite the recent supportive conclusion of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. They deny that their fidelity to the status quo is related to any personal financial conflicts of interest. They maintain that the current system, while imperfect, is sound and just.
I won’t respond to these points here, as I have done so expansively on prior posts in the Legal Quality category of this blog. I reject the dimissive and smarmy remark that I am not qualified to offer views and opinions on the current medical liability system. Does one need a law degree to criticize or praise the legal profession? Do you need to be a chef before you can recommend a restaurant? This is ridiculous. Moreover, any individual who has had the pleasure of being sued and deposed, as I have, has a valid view on the legal process, and is entitled to be heard.
Before shutting me down because you assume that I have a visceral animus against attorneys, keep in mind that my father was an attorney, my brother was an attorney and is now a sitting judge and my sister married an attorney. I grew up hearing about the law and respecting the profession. I fantasized, even during my medical career, of studying law.
I learned last week that law students across the country will instantly become much smarter. How will they accomplish this collective and worthy feat? Will they study harder? Will they take summer classes? Will they pursue advanced degrees? Hardly. Law students will get smarter automatically. Here's how the magic will happen. Their law schools will declare that their students are now smarter. It's that simple.
Is this a trick? Am I playing with my readers? Am I fabricating this to lure folks to this blog?
Not at all. The Whistleblower uses honest weights. If my word is not enough to satisfy skeptical readers, then here is the link to the New York Times article for your review.
Law schools have decided to arbitrarily raise the grade point averages (GPA) of students to make them more attractive to hiring firms. Here are some key points.
• Several law schools, including highly prestigious institutions, are easing academic standards to raise students’ grades
• Some law schools pay law firms directly to hire their students
• Harvard and Stanford Law Schools recently eliminated traditional grading so employers cannot easily differentiate the students
The schools were responding to complaints that students were having difficulty finding employment. If an applicant is having difficulty finding a job, then I humbly suggest that the applicant and the law school work together to improve the applicant. Isn’t that the purpose of an educational institution? If a football kicker can’t kick a field goal, should the coach lower the goal posts? Should law students' strategy for securing employment be to increase their legitimate credentials and performance or to lower academic standards? Law schools have made their choice.
When leading educational institutions teach that lowering standards is a pathway to success, then they have failed in their mission. This moral and educational transgression is even deeper when it is concocted by law schools, who are ostensibly paragons of justice and fair play. Shameful!
Why stop with lawyers? Let’s raise everyone’s GPA across the nation, so we can instantly become a smarter country. I am willing to support a proposal declaring that every college student is now in the top 10% of his class.
This perverted strategy is likely to prolong the practice of filing frivolous lawsuits. How can we expect tomorrow's lawyers to recognize that it is wrong to sue innocent people? Such a recognition requires a moral and ethical mindset, and apparently these qualities are not part of law school curricula, judging by their GPA legerdemain. What can we expect of lawyers who were taught by their faculty that gaining advantage without merit is commendable? Their law degrees may be even more frivolous than the cases they will file against us.
I'll borrow a legal term to summarize my reaction to this grade inflation scheme: res ipsa loquitur, latin for 'the thing speaks for itself'. Does it ever.
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Posted by Michael Kirsch, M.D. at 9:56 AM
Labels: Legal Quality